On 16th March 2020, the Prime Minister spoke to over sixty of the UK’s leading manufacturing businesses and organisations, calling on them to support the NHS and saves lives by producing vital medical equipment, such as ventilators.
Reaching out to contacts throughout the UK’s engineering community, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s CEO Dick Elsy convened an industrial consortium from across the aerospace, automotive, motorsport and medical sectors to tackle the challenge – ensuring that the NHS front line had the tools and equipment it needed to care for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Against a backdrop of life or death urgency, the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium – made up of over 5000 volunteers – established seven new large-scale manufacturing facilities at sites including the HVM Catapult’s own AMRC Cymru in Broughton, as well as restructuring existing Smiths Medical and Penlon operations. The consortium then worked with great determination and energy to scale-up the production of the Penlon ESO 2 Emergency Ventilator, based on existing technology from Oxfordshire-based Penlon and an existing device from Smiths Group, the Smiths paraPACTM plus.
This coalition of the very best of this country’s people and capability across different sectors truly showcased the strength of the manufacturing industry in the UK. The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium produced 13,437 ventilators in only twelve weeks, more than doubling the stock available to the NHS and building a resilient stock should ventilators be required in the UK in the future.
The HVM Catapult’s seven Centres have also been active in ensuring that as much PPE as possible gets to the NHS front line and to social care services. This was done both by donating over 100,000 items of PPE kit and by manufacturing key items, such as face visors and shields for aerosol-generating procedures, using 3D-printing and batch cutting techniques to produce them as quickly as possible.